They might actually like it, if you give them opportunity.


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Some days I think it’s impossible to get my youngest to eat what we’ve made for dinner (or breakfast and lunch) if it’s not one of his limited favorites at the moment.  He said he was NOT going to eat … Continue reading

Non-Traditional New England Clambake

My kids love looking at the lobsters in the tanks whenever we’re at the supermarket.  They make me stop at the tank every time and my middle son always asks me to buy some.  Our local family-owned supermarket was having a special on lobsters ($3.99/lb) and I just had to add two of them to my PEI mussel purchase.  They’re usually double that price.   I bought a pound of the mussels (an appetizer) which were on sale too for just $2/pound! 

New England Clambake often consists of steamed lobster and clams (and maybe mussels), corn on the cob, potatoes and coleslaw.  The best I’ve had was on tiny Clam Island off Branford, CT where the lobsters were cooked in a huge aluminum garbage can over an open flame with the traditional seawater and seaweed.   Yum!

I had corn and potatoes from our CSA, but didn’t get around to making my coleslaw even though I had the ingredients.  And I make a pretty good coleslaw. I just couldn’t get it together.  It’s the end of summer and the kids are definitely acting like they’ve been around each other a bit too long.  So I heated up the micro bok choy I’d steamed the night before instead.  With Asian ingredients, hardly New England. So I might as well make my mussels ala Belgian or French style- white wine, chives, parsley, shallots, chopped tomatoes and a touch of butter.  Plus, I took the corn off the cob (we only had 3 for 4 of us) and warmed it up with butter, salt and pepper.   And I didn’t buy any clams, so I could hardly call it a “clambake” now. 


Well, whatever we call it.  It was great!  And it seemed like the perfect dinner for an end-of-summer night.  Considering the temperature dropped the following day and it feels like autumn I’m glad I seized the sale.

The kids were a little cautious with the lobsters.  They can be a bit daunting. I think next time I’ll shell it for them and serve it with butter, garlic and lemon.  My three year old gladly had the mussels but didn’t want to try the lobster right out of the shell.  At least they all ate their bok choy and corn. And my husband got to have the left over lobster for lunch. 

Grilled Seafood and Baby Bok Choy

While shopping my sons the other day, my middle one requested some shrimp.  I saw some beautiful diver scallops there as well and decided a few of each would be great for grilling.  When I showed the boys the baby bok choy they actually hoorayed!  My brother joined us for dinner so I included an approximately pound-sized filet of salmon to grill with the shellfish (or else it wouldn’t have been enough for 5, especially with my brother’s appetite).  Salmon and seafood are great to grill for clean up convenience and also so you don’t have the smell lingering around the house the next day! 

After putting the jasmine rice on the stove and starting up the grill I put the baby bok choy on to stea m.  With baby bok choy you can steam the whole thing together, with the larger size you should cut the stems off to steam a minute longer first before adding the leaves.  Once the leaves are wilted, they’re done.  Shock with cold water.  Keep to the side to finish later.  

I then shelled the already cleaned shrimp, put a 2-3 on a soaked bamboo skewer, then  drizzled them with olive oil, sea salt and ground pepper.  I repeated skewering, etc. with the scallops.   I then put some olive oil on a plate and the salmon on top, flipping it over to coat it, then added salt and pepper.

I put the salmon on the grill first since it takes longer.  Once it had cooked a few minutes I added the shrimp and scallops.  I took them off after turning and the shrimp was just pink and scallops had more whitish-solid appearance.  You don’t want to over cook either as they’ll become tough.  It only takes a few minutes. The salmon doesn’t take very long either- it should still be dark in the center to be flavorful and tender. 

After the seafood and fish were done I finished the bok choy.  In a pan I heated 1 tsp sesame oil, a Tbsp canola oil and 1/2 tsp soy sauce.   I added the bok choy (I chopped mine into approximately inch pieces which make the leaves easier for the kids to eat) until warmed and coated.


Delicious for all!  My kids love this meal!

We use Tamari (by San-J and others) soy sauce which is richer in flavor and has no wheat, unlike the most popular types of soy sauce.  Perfect for those on gluten-free diets.  It also has no artificial flavors or preservatives and is naturally fermented.  Shoyu soy sauce (think Kikkoman’s) is made with a combination of soy and wheat.  There even are some cheaper soy sauces that use acid hydrolyzed soy protein instead of traditional brewing methods.  They have a longer shelf-life but you sacrifice quality, taste and possible health benefits.

© 2010

Quick Meal- Pasta with Seafood & Micro-Greens

It was one of those days around here, which is pretty often, when dinner time was upon us already and nothing was on the stove, in the oven or on the grill. So, what’s fast?  Pasta!  I had remembered earlier that we had a half package each of frozen large shrimp (uncooked) and Langostinos (cooked) and we could make a pasta with them.  Langostinos are a crustacean, like crayfish, just about 2 inches long.  I got these ones from Trader Joe’s. 

We took the frozen packages out and thawed them in 2 separate bowls of cold water.  Put some water on to boil the pasta. Chopped a couple of cloves of garlic, one shallot and 1/4 red onion (because that’s what we had in the house).  Sautéed them all in olive oil for a few minutes and added chopped organic white mushrooms (I tend to buy certain things organic and some conventional) a pat of butter, sea salt and fresh ground pepper.  After a few minutes added some white wine (please use what you’d actually drink and don’t ever buy “cooking wine” it would leave the same awful flavor in your food as in a glass)— about 1/4-1/2 cup and some more olive oil.  Added the drained shrimp that was cut into half (smaller bites) and took off the heat while the pasta is cooking. Once it’s finished and drained, added the pasta to the garlic, mushroom, shrimp mix, stirred in the Langostinos, package of baby organic spinach and 3/4 package of micro-greens and put back on heat stirring regularly for about a minute or two.  No need to really “cook” the vegetables or Langostinos, just heat them.  All done!  It was less than half an hour in total. 

The micro-greens I got from Trader Joe’s too (one of my favorite stores) and are the sprouts of Red Russian Kale, Red Cabbage, Purple Kohlrabi, Purple Radish and Beet Greens.  They are intensely flavored and only about an inch long- root and all.  Some of these ones are quite peppery too.  Micro-greens are really rich in nutrients too.  Because of their intensity, you don’t need other herbs with this dish, but you wouldn’t go wrong with some fresh chopped basil. 

We hadn’t done this dish as such before, so I wasn’t sure how the kids would react except I knew that my middle son would whine, “I don’t want that” per most every dinner.  Today he added, “I told you I wanted just plain pasta with butter.  Didn’t you remember that?  Of course I did, I just ignored it.  My kids get plain pasta with butter often when we go out to eat.  It’s funny because we don’t usually have the things listed on the kids’ menu at home I let them order from it out.  It’s a treat we’re out, so I let them have a treat of chicken nuggets or plain pasta with butter!  The funny thing is as soon as the whine is out of the mouth, the fork is in.  He ate it all and really enjoyed it.  This was also one of the cases where he said he didn’t like mushrooms unless they were in a cream sauce, so I had him try it… he ate the rest without complaint.   

I’m sure some kids would love to eat cookies, candy and ice cream instead of all the good foods but as parents we know they wouldn’t survive on a diet like that.  Well, they need the nutrients in vegetables and fruits and if they’re served regularly they will eat them.  We got a taste for them at some point, so will they.  Kids have to be introduced to them to understand they should be eating them every day.  There won’t be the struggle some have over just a few veggies if they just have them in front of the kids every day.  And when there are so many quick (and yummy) ways to do it, it becomes easier for all involved.  


PEI Mussels

I love all seafood and my children like most kinds.  I’ve told most people that my “go to” meal for them (one I know they will finish happily) is salmon with rice and veggies.  But mussels became a regular dish two years ago when we were in New Hampshire with a girl friend and her two girls.  All five kids loved the mussels we moms ordered, that now we get them/prepare them often when we’re together.  My three year old is the biggest fan.  He orders them out at restaurants too.   He was the one who pleaded with me to buy some the other day.

  • One pound, cleaned and de-bearded PEI mussels
  • 1/2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves garlic chopped
  •  1 shallot chopped
  • handful of chopped fresh chives, parsley and/or basil
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 plum tomato chopped

 Lightly sauté shallots for two minutes over high heat in olive oil.  Add the garlic and cook another minute or two until just done but not brown.  My husband’s trick: add the white wine and take it off heat it stops it from cooking further  – esp. if you’re not ready to eat quite yet.  I always just added the mussels and everything else but the garlic and oil got too brown (it changes the flavor).    I usually use the NZ Sauvignon Blanc we’ve got around (hint: Black Box wines have great value and taste and keep wine fresher than an open bottle.  It’s 4 bottles in one box, so easy for backyard bbq’s!) but any drinkable white will do.  About 1/2 cup for 1 pound of mussels.  Add mussels, fresh herbs and tomato.  Cook covered on med-high, stirring once or twice, until open and cooked through- about 8-10 minutes.  Serve in large bowl with crusty bread on side for dipping.  Amazingly you won’t need salt!  The mussels are usually salty enough.

My kids eat them and several of my friends’ children do as well!  If you like seafood, but think they won’t just introduce it to them… have them try yours and see if they’ll bite!